Counselors in Fryeberg, Maine, 1965 by Carol A. Amato

Counselors in Fryeberg, Maine, 1965

Along the trail to our cabins
night was a pitch-black penetrable
wall us tripping over roots like leggy
limbs wrapped wantonly around one
another no foothold of ground between
them us slipping breathless in the drama
to stay up our eyes searching for a
cabin’s lamp glow to guide us ‘though
it was lights out for the campers.

On clear nights the moon was swallowed
by towering pine’s needle arms touching
one another, grown close and conspiratorial
as thieves enveloping us with their sharp
scent like strong menthol drops piercing
the nose and throat with each intake of
cold August night air

far more pungent
than Caroline’s pine tree hanging from her
car mirror on days off joyful to be able to
smoke freely heading to Conway and once
even Kennebunkport over the speed limit
and the welcome of the bright lights of
the highway heading back.

The next day, drawing en plein air with them
their congregations of pines Crayola Forest Green,
Laser Lemon slants of light piercing the Sepia earth
full of our young selves that almost end of summer
just before fall with all its extravagant dying and us
facing unpredictable perhaps outrageous changes

the pines, in dark and light, shedding needles
when they must, still green and steadfast.

by Carol A. Amato

Editor’s Note: The idyllic wonder detailed in this poem evokes nostalgia for a moment in time that we can only hope will endure as we go through life.

A Small Bird by Carol A. Amato

A Small Bird

A small bird’s egg tooth pokes light
into that safe darkness.

She rises wet from the jagged shell
to see the cold awareness of stars,
an imperfect egg moon.

She feels the weight of mother
love above her, transient as
the broken fragments and the swirl
of feathers beneath her.

The nestlings grow quickly
the constancy of protein stuffed
often into their gaping mouths
(unlovely the caterwauling of need)
readying to test the sky.

Except for her.

She watches as they lift from their
boney home to join the flock
jostling for space on the high wire
paralleling the divided highway
dark sentinels facing into the wind.

In a sudden
they rise together conjoined as one
whirling and veering
slanting in and out of clouds
the swarm like a cult of bees
impenetrable and unquestioning.

She feels the pull of a gentle wind
lifting her maiden feathers into
a prophetic V.

Balanced on the nest edge
she leaps into that rarefied air
soaring on her own wings into
the swirling thermals toward the bold
new moon and the intrepid stars
like her
a small brave bird.

by Carol A. Amato

Editor’s Note: The imagery in this poem feels like allegory, but even if it isn’t, the narrative of the small brave bird is one many of us need right now.

From the archives – Destiny of the Lone Hunter by Carol A. Amato

Destiny of the Lone Hunter

What I didn’t see was the vast length
of wing-spread and the slow deep
wing-beats planing down in a wide circle
legs outstretched, descending to the pond’s
edge accordion-folded wings against its
muted blue-gray plumage

but now
ankle deep in the silt of last fall’s leaf litter
and instantly statue-still without perceptible
movement
spear-beak poised
dark pin-prick eyes able to discern the slightest
sign of life disturbing its own reflection and the
sky’s along whose borders this fall’s wild rage of
colors will soon become air-borne confetti.

Unfazed by useless beauty, the heron,
one stilt-leg lifted, bends its sinuous neck
then lightning-strikes the stalked-for prey
it swallows whole.
All that matters in the scheme of things:
the rewards of forbearance and efficiency.

It will return here until all but the oak leaves
have fallen and a transparent film of ice
forms around its patient legs.
It may stay the winter
unknown by us mere mortals why
but respecting choices we admire:
pluck and persistence and perhaps
faith in open water

or instead lift off graceful and strong fading soon
into the layered clouds and pushed by southerly
winds those beneficent purveyors of unpredictable
destinies.

from Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY, September 13, 2016 — by Carol A. Amato

photo by Christine Klocek-Lim

Baseball in Connecticut by Carol A. Amato

Baseball in Connecticut

I knew the feeling as well as any boy
hunched over home plate, a flat rock,
legs apart, left in front, bend the knees,
bat back and hands choked up a lot
(the bat was never kid-sized)
hat low squinting against the glare
silent six-word metronome ticking
keep your eye on the ball
keep your eye on the ball.

Bases loaded.
Timmy’s hard-ball pitch the same as
when he hurled rocks in our rock fight
wars at Red Rock Quarry still aiming
more for the head than over the plate.

For every concussion he ever
gave my little brother
I swung on the first count,
the crack
electric sting in my palms
the whirl of frayed ball
over the splintered benches
and me sliding to home
a girl
gladly eating dirt.

by Carol A. Amato

Editor’s Note: The narrative voice of this poem combines the adult with the girl, and hooks the reader into the triumphant home run.

See-saw, Margery Daw by Carol A. Amato

See-saw, Margery Daw

You of a certain age remember it
the long wooden board balanced on
a metal fulcrum and holding-on bars
at either end still cold in summer.

You and a friend of approximate
weight taking turns pushing off
with your legs lifting one of you up
to then fall fast and the thrill in your
gut like invading butterflies, the same
whoop you felt when your father sped
down a high hill just so you could have
that joy.

‘See-saw, Margery Daw
Johnny shall have a new master.
He shall not have a penny a day
Because he can’t saw any faster.’

You learned much later there was no
Margery Daw but sawyers with a two-
person saw, singing it again and again.
Discovered too that those highs
wouldn’t last, like your Dad
who forgot all about joy.

And the chubby dimpled cousin
who always got the better of you
but couldn’t get off the ground.
We laughed hard at her
mean little bastards that we were
and never did feel sorry.

Rusty, too, the kid with so many freckles
they melded into a brown face-puddle
smirking as he jumped off sending you
plummeting to the ground too late for
the rescue of legs, banging the board on
the macadam not cushioned with wood
chips or bouncy rubbery surfaces
slamming your teeth together
the jarring jolt pain shots into your head.

Don’t cry.
Don’t tell your mother.
Fight your own battles, fists if needed
hiding the bruises from her when you
came home after dark long after being
called in to a now cold dinner or maybe
none.

by Carol A. Amato

Editor’s Note: The careful imagery in this poem sets the framework for the emotional punches that surprise the reader (the father who “forgot all about joy,” the bullying, and the lonely last line). This poem feels real, because it is.

Pushcart Prize Nominations – 2016

logoborderlite

I am happy to announce the following poems have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize:

In Sicily, On the Road to Gela by Carol A. Amato
American Numerology by Stephen Bunch
June Twenty-First by Bruce Guernsey
Slack Traffic by Martin J. Elster
Visitation by Jo Angela Edwins
Hurricane by Bayleigh Fraser

Congratulations and good luck!

Destiny of the Lone Hunter by Carol A. Amato

Destiny of the Lone Hunter

What I didn’t see was the vast length
of wing-spread and the slow deep
wing-beats planing down in a wide circle
legs outstretched, descending to the pond’s
edge accordion-folded wings against its
muted blue-gray plumage

but now
ankle deep in the silt of last fall’s leaf litter
and instantly statue-still without perceptible
movement
spear-beak poised
dark pin-prick eyes able to discern the slightest
sign of life disturbing its own reflection and the
sky’s along whose borders this fall’s wild rage of
colors will soon become air-borne confetti.

Unfazed by useless beauty, the heron,
one stilt-leg lifted, bends its sinuous neck
then lightning-strikes the stalked-for prey
it swallows whole.
All that matters in the scheme of things:
the rewards of forbearance and efficiency.

It will return here until all but the oak leaves
have fallen and a transparent film of ice
forms around its patient legs.
It may stay the winter
unknown by us mere mortals why
but respecting choices we admire:
pluck and persistence and perhaps
faith in open water

or instead lift off graceful and strong fading soon
into the layered clouds and pushed by southerly
winds those beneficent purveyors of unpredictable
destinies.

by Carol A. Amato

Editor’s Note: Detailed imagery moves this poem from simple snapshot to philosophical memoir.